In the earlier days Wikipedia used to be my trusted and perennial source of information. As I got more familiar with the Internet, the importance of Wikipedia as a trusted source of information has waned. It’s not that Wikipedia isn’t accurate, but rather the lack of fully interactive content.
Google tried to fix this by launching Knol, which was eventually shut down. Now, a startup by the name Qwiki is trying to tackle the lack of interactivity by spicing up publicly available information with videos and images. Curious? Follow me after the fold for an in-depth look.
Qwiki’s goal is to forever improve the way people experience information. By combining conventional snippets of textual information with highly interactive and engaging formats like audio, video, and images, the app offers an elegant and intuitive mode of learning.
Qwiki was born as a web app and has graduated into a mobile platform just like other matured startups. Vitally, the iPad app retains the gorgeous user interface design of the original web app – perhaps even going beyond it. There are a lot of boxes in the design but they blend well with the design aesthetic.
At launch, Qwiki will ask for your permission to ascertain your location. I would suggest that you allow the app to detect the location, else you might miss a lot of cool things the app can do for you. There is a short, well edited video narrating the Qwiki experience in general, which is a great start if you plan not to read the rest of the 700 words of this review (Trust me, mine is very comprehensive)!
If you don’t want to get into the trial and error mode and want to find the real value of the app right away, try accessing the Qwiki of the day that is featured on the homescreen. The homescreen also features location specific information and Qwikis, which we will explore a bit later.
Accessing a Qwiki
A Qwiki looks more like a cross between an animated slideshow and a video documentary. Images and videos that are relevant to the topic are sewn together in an engrossing narrative which usually runs for a few minutes. Pictures and videos move along with the narration and you can pause the Qwiki at any time to assimilate all the information you have just discovered.
The audio narration is accompanied by closed captions, which can be turned off by using the icon at the bottom right corner of the screen.
At any point during the narration, if you feel that things are moving a bit slowly, use the navigation slider at the bottom of the screen to skip some parts. Swiping across the main slideshow cuts the narrative abruptly and you will be taken to the next set of snippets.
All related keywords mentioned in the Qwiki or those with the topic can be accessed by tapping the Qwiki icon right next to the navigation slider. It’s a great way to discover and learn about new and related topics.
You can find Qwikis either by searching for them using a keyword, or by going to the homescreen – where you can discover Qwikis based on dates, topics and popularity. Searching for a Qwiki is very straightforward – it’s easy to can find all relevant results instantly.
However, if you are into discovering things on your own make use of the sections on top of the homepage. You can either head over to a section of your choice or just swipe across the screen to see them all one after another.
Location based Qwikis
Leveraging your location to showcase Qwikis is a cool new addition to the iPad app and makes it that much more awesome than its online counterpart. Laid out nicely on a Google Map of your neighborhood are markers indicating areas of significance and the Qwikis created in their name.
Tap on a marker to get an overview of the significance of the place, then double tap to view the narrative.
Qwikis aren’t limited only to your current location. You have the option to choose any destination of importance or pick from the popular destinations listed to get know more about them. While not as comprehensive as a travel guide, these should help you narrow down on tourist destinations that are worth a visit or just broaden your knowledge of geography in general.
Both the web and iPad versions of the app are free. The goal of Qwiki is very laudable. The developers are trying to free us from the clutch of lengthy and monotonous prose with hundreds of words and to enlighten us by way of interactive story telling.
A few months ago, I reviewed the web app for our sister site Web.AppStorm and between then and now they have refined the app a lot. The content is deeper, narration is better, and the variety is brilliant. The only thing I really missed is the ability to take notes and to add references of my own.
The app is still in an early stage of development but is adding features at a steady pace and I’m all for supporting this brand new endeavour to spread the wealth of knowledge. So should you!